The State of Israel is about to see its own home-grown Tea Party movement. Unlike other international Tea Parties, the Israeli Tea Party is focused less on local, domestic concerns, but rather on US President Barack Obama’s Middle East policy.
“The movement will hold its opening rally on Sunday night at the Zionist Organization of America House in Tel Aviv under the banner ‘Saying no to Obama.’
“The immediate goal of the movement will be to pressure Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu not to give in to Obama’s demand that Israel renew the construction moratorium in Judea and Samaria.
“Israeli Tea Party spokeswoman Sarah Tiktinsky predicted that Obama would renew efforts to push Israel following next Tuesday’s midterm elections in the US, and said Obama’s leverage on Netanyahu must be countered with equal force by the Right.
“‘Netanyahu has been under intense pressure from Washington,’ Tiktinsky said. ‘History has proven that Bibi caves in to pressure, so something must be done to stop him. No one in the Likud faction is taking the serious steps to stop him, so it must come from the grassroots.'”
The antagonism to President Obama by many Israelis stems from the widely held perception that Obama tilts toward Muslim nations in his Middle East policy to the point of actively hostility against the Jewish state. President Obama has attempted to strong arm unilateral concessions from Israel concerning Jewish settlements, not only on the West Bank, but also housing within Jerusalem, which Israel regards as its capital.
Obama’s first White House meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu did not proceed in a very friendly fashion. At one point, President Obama ordered Netanyahu to mull over some demands for a peace settlement with the Palestinians while Obama went upstairs to have dinner in the private quarters. It was an embarrassing breach of diplomatic protocol. More recently, the United States voted for a UN Security Council resolution that condemned Israel in all but name for the Gaza flotilla incident.
In the meantime, Obama is sending friendly overtures to Iran, a theocratic Muslim state that is currently developing nuclear weapons with the express purpose of wiping Israel off the map. The Obama administration seems not only unable to find a way to stop Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, but seems to be actively engaged in discouraging Israel’s effects to do so.
The interesting aspect about the Israeli Tea Party, just as with the American version, is that it suggests a feeling among common citizens that their governments are not being responsive to their needs. In America, the issue is overspending and overtaxation. In Israel, it is the security of the Jewish state, surrounded by enemies, suddenly estranged from the United States, the one friend it had hitherto relied upon.
In both the United States and Israel, the people are using the tools democracy gives them, including the right to assemble peacefully for a redress of grievances and, ultimately, the right to vote. The Tea Party, wherever it arises, constitutes a revolt of democracy against the bureaucratic state and, as such, is a beautiful thing to behold.
Sources: Israel to get its own ‘Tea Party’ movement, Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post, October 27th, 2010
Obama Plays Hardball with Israel, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, April 19th, 2009
Binyamin Netanyahu Meets a Hostile Barack Obama, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, May 18th, 2009
Obama Throws Israel Under the Bus, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, June 2nd, 2010